The 2009 NFL Playoffs—Wild Card Round is here and it is time for teams and players (Arizona Cardinals’ WR Steve Breaston pictured) to make their mark or go home
At times, the 2009 NFL Season seemed to have already written its playoff script with the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, both undefeated for the majority of the season, headed for a collision course at Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida.
But as fate usually does in the National Football League, the Colts and Saints plus other early season favorite, the Minnesota Vikings, have shown towards the end of the regular season that nothing is pre-determined in the world’s best sports league.
I am not saying that none of the top four seeds (Colts, Saints, Vikings, and San Diego Chargers) may not go full throttle through the playoffs and win it all, but I am expecting that this year’s playoffs will be another wide-open affair.
As Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said, “It’s an exciting time right now, it’s the NFL playoffs!”
There are now 12 teams scratching to survive on the long road to the Super Bowl and there are obstacles everywhere in the toughest single-elimination tournament around.
“We’re all 0-0 now," said Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
It doesn’t matter how any of the teams got into the playoffs, all that matters is that the remaining teams are in the mix for the biggest prize in pro football. It has been one wacky NFL season with many exciting storylines and I am sure the excitement will continue in the 2009 “Own the Moment” NFL post-season.
Every team has a chance as ten of the twelve teams in the postseason have double-digit wins and for the 14th consecutive season, five or more teams qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year—six new playoff teams are the Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Cincinnati Bengals.
Anything is possible and hope rightfully abounds in all twelve playoff cities.
If the 2009 NFL Regular Season has taught us anything, it showed that “On Any Given Sunday” any team can step up their level of play to beat any other team in the parity-filled NFL (remember the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers knocking off the playoff bound Green Bay Packers way back in Week 9).
Besides attaining the No. 1 seed in your conference is no guarantee of Super Bowl entry as surprisingly it has been fifteen seasons since the last time two No. 1 seeds faced each other in Super Bowl (1993 season, Buffalo vs. Dallas in Super Bowl XXVIII).
The theme of the 2009 NFL Wild Card Playoff round should be the same as one of my favorite ’70s films, Let’s Do It Again . The film starred African American film icons Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitiere making a killing by prearranging boxing matches with all the marbles riding on a big payday rematch.
The word “rematch” fits perfectly when talking about this year’s Wild Card round as all four games will be rematches with three out of four being immediate rematches from the regular season’s Week 17.
Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, there have been nine instances when two teams have played in the final week of the regular season and again the next week to start the postseason. The losing team in Week 17 has won five of the nine playoff games.
Of course having played and beaten a team in the regular season may cause some “familiarity” and a psychological edge in game planning along with dissecting tendencies.
But playoff tenants of strong quarterback play (i.e. taking care of the football), good attacking defense, a balanced offensive attack based first in the run, sound special teams play, limiting penalties/turnovers, and just plain “want-to” will be the key factors as to which teams move on to the Divisional round on long treacherous road to the Super Bowl.
Other storylines for Wildcard Weekend include:
My advice to everyone watching this weekend’s wildcard action is to pay very close attention to the winners as teams advancing from the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl six times including three of the last four.
A prime example of going from the Wild Card to great heights were the 2007 New York Giants, who went from the NFC’s fifth seed to winning the Super Bowl. The G-Men won three road games and then triumphed in Arizona over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Three years ago, the AFC third-seeded Indianapolis accomplished the feat. And four years ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers became the first sixth seed to win a Super Bowl.
I usually like to look at the hottest teams going into playoff games as favorites and no team is hotter than the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers enter the postseason with 11 consecutive victories, the NFL’s longest current win streak.
San Diego has clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC and is tied for the fifth-longest win streak to enter the playoffs since 1970.
Other teams entering the 2009 NFL playoffs on a roll are the Dallas Cowboys (3), NY Jets (2), Green Bay Packers (1), Baltimore Ravens (1),and Minnesota Vikings (1).
Conversely six teams enter the postseason carrying a losing streak led by the suddenly reeling New Orleans Saints (3)—other losing streak teams are the Indianapolis Colts (2), Arizona Cardinals (1), Philadelphia Eagles (1), New England Patriots (1), and Cincinnati Bengals (1).
2009 NFL SEASON – WILD CARD WEEKEND
Saturday, January 9
|AFC : 4:30 PM||New York Jets (9-7) at Cincinnati (10-6) (NBC)|
|NFC : 8:00 PM||Philadelphia (11-5) at Dallas (11-5) (NBC)|
Sunday, January 10
|AFC : 1:00 PM||Baltimore (9-7) at New England (10-6) (CBS)|
|NFC : 4:40 PM||Green Bay (11-5) at Arizona (10-6) (FOX)|
Wild Card Game Previews and Picks to follow
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)Posted in 2009 NFL Playoffs, 2009 NFL Playoffs Wild Card Preview, 2009 NFL Playoffs Wild Card Round, 2009 NFL Season, Cowboys-Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles Tagged: 2009 NFL Playoffs, 2009 NFL Playoffs Wildcard Round, 2009 NFL Season, 2009 Wildcard Preview, 2009 Wildcard Round, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Football, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Sports
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